On November 30, several groups in opposition to the “Marriage Equality Bill,” legalizing same-sex marriage protested on Ketagalan Boulevard in front of the presidential office. Led by the Coalition for the Happiness of Our Next Generation, over 150,000 people participated, shouting slogans in defense of heterosexual marriage. Many of them carried signs supporting marriage and children “Made by Daddy + Mommy” and “Against revision of Article 972 of the Civil Code” which would allow same-sex marriage.
The Coalition, one of the organizers of the event, said that allowing same-sex couples to marry and adopt children would encourage “sexual liberation”, undermine traditional family values and confuse gender roles for children. The Coalition stressed that any change to marriage and the family structure must be approved by a nationwide referendum.
Meanwhile, about 500 people in support of legalizing same-sex marriage gathered a few blocks away in front of the Legislative Yuan. Organized by the Taiwan Alliance to Promote Civil Partnership Rights (TAPCPR), they countered with signage on “freedom in love, equality in forming a family”.
Victoria Hsu, director of TAPCPR, said that the groups against the bill distort the meaning of marriage equality. Their fear of same sex union leaves little room for rational discussion, causing many citizens to misunderstand homosexuality, she told the United Evening News.
The amendment drafted by TAPCPR, includes three bills on marriage equality, partnership and family system. Under the name of the “Bill Package for Diverse Family Formation”, these three bills were independently drafted. Among them, the bill on marriage equality has collected a million supporting signatures up to September 10. It was submitted to the Legislative Yuan and passed the first reading on October 25.
TAPCPR took three years to complete the revision on Article 972 of the Civil Code, and drafted the new bill with the purpose of meeting the needs and complexity of Taiwan society. The amendment rewrites the definition of family, while deregulating the traditional family structure based on marriage and sexual relations.
If passed, the “Marriage Equality Bill” will rewrite the existing civil law on marriage and the family, changing the specific gender indication of male and female to a gender neutral description. References to “husband and wife” would be changed to “spouses” and “father and mother” would be substituted by “parents”, so that the legal recognition and protection of marital relationship of men and women are extended to include gays and lesbians.
Under the partnership system, “family” is redefined, allowing gays and lesbians to spend the rest of their lives together in a legal relationship. The definition of “family” in the Civil Code is rewritten under the new amendment, with the word “kinship” removed from the law. Instead, it would read, “a couple living together for the purpose of permanent living.” It is therefore not necessary to have kinship in a family.
The Global Views monthly noted the battles to pass the bill package will begin by addressing same-sex marriages, but the more challenging battles will be centered on the partnership system and the family system, especially the latter.
Because these two bills do not build upon the premise of marriage and sexual relations, and won’t be punished with the crime of adultery because there is no marriage bondage. For the religious conservatives, they see this as a breakdown of “monogamy”, the core of family ethics.
The Coalition of Protecting Family, the strongest opposition against the bill, believes that the new partnership system is considered as a one to one relationship, without the obligations of loyalty and easily revocable. Their fear is that partnership legalizes mistress status, while the new family system allows people without kinship to form a family, planting the seed of incest and sexual liberation.
The United Daily News reported that President Ma Ying-jeou called for more dialogue, communication and discussion to reach a consensus because this involves the social foundation of marriage and family. It will create more opposition and backfire if done in haste without social consensus. On the other hand, he hopes that the Taiwanese people will be more tolerant and respectful in this regard. Ma said that homosexuality is a human rights issue, a cultural issue, and also a generational issue in our society, “because young people are more receptive to homosexual rights”, he said.